“It’s on me…”

I spend most of my working week in ‘Wi-Fi enabled’ coffee shops in my local town of Carlisle, and caught myself staring out of the window last Tuesday.

I was watching a middle aged man, unwashed and unshaven with dirty looking jeans on and a ripped duffel jacket. He sat outside the coffee shop in the cold, arms stretched out holding a ‘Costa Coffee’ takeaway cup for people to place coins in. As I looked closer, I recognised the man… He was once a maths lecturer at my University and someone who tutored me through my first year maths exams…

I left my table and went out to speak to him.

“Mr.Taylor” I said, “You may not remember me but…”

“Toby. Am I right?” he said… I couldn’t believe he remembered me.

He told me that his luck was down. He had lost his job years ago and had suffered with severe depression when his wife passed away. “This is what life has in store for me now” he said, “Still doing the maths, but just to count what little change I can scrounge from passers by…”
I asked him if I could help. He said “No thank you – unless you can find it in your heart to buy me a coffee and sandwich. It’s freezing out here, and I’m starving.”

Of course I bought him a coffee and sandwich, and as I gave it to him he asked me to cup my hands. He tipped the few coins he had in his takeaway coffee cup and said “I know it’s not enough, but it’s all I have.”

It’s on me.” I said and handed him back the coins…

I began thinking about Mr. Taylor and what I could do differently to help…

I read about a scheme on Facebook that started in Naples. I think it’s called ‘Suspended coffee’s’ and it reminded me of my encounter and how we can all help people like Mr. Taylor. Most of us think nothing of paying for a friends coffee or sandwich when we meet for lunch, so what if, every time we go for a coffee we buy an extra one and add it to the “It’s on me” account at the coffee shop. If the coffee shop hasn’t heard of the scheme, tell them this story (or print it out and give it to them). Those who find themselves on the street and in the cold and can’t afford a coffee can ask in the coffee shop if there are any coffee’s on the “It’s on me” scheme. Your pre-paid coffee will be given to them, and it’s all “on you”.

It’s a simple idea and it only costs a couple of pounds. It’s simply about being nicer to each other… What have you done today that’s for someone else?